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A living Murray? « Previous | |Next »
May 18, 2006

Remember that water has described by the PM as Australia’s greatest environmental challenge, was a high spending priority and there was a need to put a bomb under the process' of returning water to the river. Well there was an additional $500 million in the 2006 federal Budget, which was committed to water conservation measures in the Murray-Darling Basin---ie., to conserve water and preserve the iconic ecological sites, which are the focus of the Living Murray Initiative.

The federal Government had to step in given the failure of the Murray-Darling Basin State Governments (NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland) to agree to adequately fund essential Murray-Darling Basin infrastructure work. The Australian Government's investment will allow the Murray-Darling Basin Commission to accelerate the full range of capital works across the Basin which it has identified as necessary to ensure the river system is operating at optimal efficiency. These include:

• Advancing construction of salt interception structures and systems to reduce salinity and maintain water quality for Adelaide, regional communities and irrigators;
• Completion of the sea to Hume dam fishways by 2011 to allow our native fish populations to reconnect along the River Murray;
• Maintenance and renewal of River Murray water delivery infrastructure, which is currently being run down; and
• New infrastructure to maximise the environmental benefits of water recovered for Living Murray initiatives, providing greater confidence that recovery of important ecological sites along the system can be achieved.

What of environmental flows? How much is being returned?

The $500 million injection will also fund additional projects under the Living Murray Environmental Works and Measures Programme and provide additional resources to ensure the return of 500 gigalitres per annum by 2009 for the Living Murray’s environmental flows. The time line keeps being pushed out, even though 500 gigalitres is one third of what is needed to make the River Murray a living river as opposed to an irrigation channel. The river has been reduced to the point whereby it needs dredging more often than not just to leave the mouth open.

Its time to move beyond recoverying water from water efficiency and infrastructure measures and start to look to the market to start buying water entitlements by engaging in water buyback schemes. There in lies the limit of water refom as understood by Malcolm Turnbull.

Of course, Jennifer Marohasy, Director of the IPA's Environment Unit, reckons that the river has already been saved.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:38 PM | | Comments (6)


Gary, My brother grows Oranges on the Murray.To repeat his scientific appraisal of the river "It is rooted".

I visited the Murray as a child in the sixties,you could still catch a Cod back then.This river system is finished and frankly I could care less what any scientist tells me. And No/No scientific debate, and No/No ideas on how to fix the problem.

Oh sorry I do have an idea.The bunglers that approved the cotton growing areas on the Murray/Darling basin and the thousands of 2 bob grape growers should be taken out and shot.

Speaking of rooted rivers, many people are very concerned about the future of the Mary and Logan Rivers here in Southeast Queensland.

THe "No Dams" campaign is one of the biggest "sleeper" stories in Australian politics right now, in my view.

Aside from one or two articles in the Australian, the rest of the country seems to have been a tad slow to catch on to what is now at stake here in the fastest growing region in the world next to Phoenix, AZ. and the unique alliances being formed to stop the creation of a megadam travesty that will make our attempts to lecture the Japanese about whaling a joke.

For those outside Queensland who may not be keeping an eye on current events in the Smart State, the Beattie Government's proposition is creating a realignment of the planets that shows once again that in Queensland the real opposition is often found outside the Parliament.

The reason is the enormous costs of such dams. This proposal requires that we shall flood 900 at least of our most productive cropping areas and destroy at least four endangered species and drive more to the brink.

Queensland is a haven of biodiversity and the "Great Sandy" region that includes World Heritage listed Fraser Island is a particular "hotspot" where rapid urban development is meeting a fragile environment that is under significant pressure.

The Mary River is the predominant watershed in this region. Years of heavy gravel mining and other poor environmental practices have left one of the most abused rivers in the state, but also with some of the nation's most incredible biodiversity.

In the Mary watershed are found some biological treasures found nowhere else in the world.

These include the long-protected Queensland "living fossil" lungfish that is now attracting international scientific attention as a treasure trove of biological "natural capital" that may help us to explain some of the mysteries of human evolution.

It doesn't stop there. Also under severe pressure is Australia's second largest frog species, the Great Barred Frog.

Also of note is the endangered, enormous 35 Kg freshwater Mary River cod species similar to the Murray cod.

These were once so abundant in the Mary that Queenslanders used to dynamite them from their holes, so abundant they were fed to pigs.

THese cod are severely endangered now, and almost certain to be driven to extinction if this plan and policy on the run comes to pass.

And don't me started on how we would lose one of the world's rarest turtle species - almost driven to extinction through the pet trade in the 70s, then identified as a new species and as endemic to the Mary.

If you are in Brisbane, please come to the launch of the Greens campaign with Senator Bob Brown on Friday 26 May at 7 PM.

Mark, best of luck,Im sorry I do not share your optomism for saving anything.As far as Im concerned it is all over for this planet,and has been for some time.Of course living in Australia we don't really get a true picture of the degradation that is going on in the world.Most people are only interested in sending their kids to school and paying their mortgage.I gave up all hope when the forrest workers in Tasmania swallowed the sustainable logging mantra.Anyone with an modicum of intelligence knows this is abject bullshit.I never cease to be amazed that people will swallow so called scientific evidence from lobbyists who are paid by the industry concerned.The mind boggles.

In my opinion the planet is teetering on the edge of absolute destruction,it may come by pollution famin war,or what ever, but one things for sure it is picking up pace,and for those not blinded by their own ignorance the signs are there.And before you ask No I am an atheist.The consumer society,and greed is good mentallity that spreads across this land and others like a cancer,has sealed our fate.

Phill, I am sorry you have not chosen to be an optimist but that does not excuse you or anyone from each doing what you can in the areas where we cyou an and do make a difference.

I thnk you should def. come to hear Sen. Brown and get your hope back, if you are in Brisbane.

Brown shows us that it is a personal choice to be an optimist and if we only act believing we can make a difference even if just being naive, and there is a spin off called "community self-efficacy".

Groups with a high degree of this "self-efficacy" will be a lot more successful than any large group of pessimists who are "smart" about what is happening to the planet but who lack a sense of collective self-efficacy.

Groups and people with self-efficacy have the power to take action and adapt when confronted by a local condition that represents something that is known to be the cause of our current ecological position.

Hey Mark,
Believe me I do my bit. I support Greenpeace financially and I love trees, a consumate tree hugger some would say.But hey, I don't suffer fools gladly! Last time I went to the forest I threatened to give a dude a broken nose.Yea I know primal aint it? I should no better at my age, but it made me feel oh so good.The dummy had the impression I was a limp wristed hippy, dumb fuck!. Consequently my wife bans me from any activity's where my blood pressure is going to exceed my i.q.

Unfortunately I live on the other side of Oz Perth to be precise, so I wont be able to hear Bob speak. I must confess Bob is one of the most honest poli's in Oz, I wouldn't piss on most of them if they were on fire. Unfortunately a lot of the poli's I abhor are from my once beloved Labor Party. But I digress good luck

do you think it is go that the gorvment is selling the jobs of australian's to other countryies and what about the farmers and having to feed there crops to there animals because the don't get a good a pay for there crops and all you see in the spermarkets is food from other see i thinks its just unspeek.